Algemeen Staff Stories - mechanic Martijn Van Schaijk: "Last winter, we built 300 bicycles from scratch"

Behind every rider stands an equally strong team. In our series 'Staff Stories' we're pleased to introduce them to you, the people who ensure that Lotto Dstny runs like a well-oiled machine every day. Today: mechanic Martijn Van Schaijk (36).
General 14 June 2024
"When Lotto Dstny partnered with Orbea last year, we built 300 new bikes that winter. It was a massive task. We changed everything: the wheels, the frames... A tremendous amount of work to start the new season." Just to say, many bikes have already passed through the hands of Martijn Van Schaijk. Martijn has been a mechanic at Lotto Dstny for four years and carries out that job with passion and dedication.

"I was actually always a cyclist myself. Until I had to stop at 18 when a heart disease was discovered. Through connections, I could stay in cycling: in 2008, I started as a mechanic at Rabobank. I stayed there until 2015. Midway through that season, I moved to Dimension Data, where I stayed until 2019. Cycling is a small world and for a while, the Lotto management of that time had been urging me to come work for them. And so, four years ago, I joined the team."

Martijn is already at work at the crack of dawn. "When we're at a race, our day always starts with checking the bikes. We pump up the tires again, load the cars, put bikes and spare bikes on the car, take spare wheels... Just before the start, we check the final details. We stick the stickers with the rider's nutrition schedule on their stem, sometimes a chain needs a bit of oil... Those kinds of things. During the race itself, I sit at the back of the sports director's car to fix any minor issues if necessary."

The work doesn't stop after the finish either. Often, there's still two hours of work ahead after the finish line. "Bikes need to be washed and checked again, and sometimes, at the request of the riders, something needs to be adjusted, for example, if there's a mountain stage on the agenda. When we arrive at the hotel after the race, we still have about two, two and a half hours of work if everything goes smoothly."

"I'm away from home for about 160 days, but even in winter there's often work to be done. Since last year, we've had this new bike sponsor, and that was a massive undertaking. I've always had a passion for equipment and innovation. I like to think about marginal gains. So, as a mechanic, we can also make a bit of a difference. Of course, it's the rider who has to do it, but our work still has an impact."

Not that Martijn minds all the hard work. "If a rider demands 110 percent from themselves, then they can also demand that from me. Besides, no two days are the same, and that's the most beautiful thing about this job. We go to a different place every day and move from one memory to another. I've done World Championships, Olympic Games, I was there when Arnaud De Lie won in Canada. I've done all the races I ever dreamed of and hope that many new memories will come in the coming years."

 

Picture: Facepeeters